Bénédicte Lemmelijn, «The Phrase Mynb)bw Myc(bw in Exod 7,19», Vol. 80 (1999) 264-268
Offering the enumeration of all the places in which the water turns into blood, Exod 7,19 concludes with the formula Mynb)bw Myc(bw. Its meaning is dubious and difficult to understand. However, a meticulous comparison of the usage of this formula in Exod 7,19 with its functioning in other parts of the Old Testament demonstrates that Mynb)bw Myc(bw in Exod 7,19 refers to the Egyptian gods or idols.
waw emphaticum12. The translation of the end of Exod 7,19 would then sound like "there was blood in all the land of Egypt, even (first w) on their [idols of] stone and (second w) wood", and thus would point, as proposed above, to the victory of YHWHs power over the Egyptian idols.
There are two objections, however, that could be raised against this proposal. A first critical remark pertains to the fact that the literary context of Exod 7,19 is not explicitly one in which idolatry comes to the fore, while all the other instances using the studied combination of C( and Nb) offer supplementary indications as to the direction of interpretation such as specific verbs or more elaborate clarifications of the context. This is true, but the biblical references of the studied expression denoting building materials also offer some supplementary contextual indications. Exod 7,19, however, does not suggest any particular explanation at all, either as building materials or as idols. Thus, its understanding in terms of foreign gods or idols must not be excluded due to lack of contextual indications.
The second objection is more substantiated. It must be noticed that all the texts, which use the studied formula in the literary context of the idols, express both terms, C( and Nb), grammatically always in the singular. When applied in the sense of building materials, however, the expression is grammatically conceived in the plural. Thus, it should be admitted that Exod 7,19 would take a special place within the series of biblical pericopes referring to idols, since its formula Mynb)bw Myc(bw is clearly in the plural.
Nevertheless, I remain of the opinion that this fact does not alter the proposed meaning of the final words of Exod 7,19. First of all, if one studies the instances referring to idols more closely, it is obvious that the used singular form is in fact a collective singular, often even combined with plural verb forms and plural pronominal suffixes referring to it (cf. e.g. 2 Kgs 19,18; Isa 37,19). Why would it not be equally possible then, to use a real plural as in Exod 7,19, instead of a collective singular, when the meaning remains identical? Moreover, if one studies the Septuagints translation equivalents for the Hebrew collective singular referring to idols, one notices that in six in a total of nine cases (Deut 4,28; 28,36.64; 2 Kgs 19,18; Isa 37,19 and Ezek 20,32), LXX offers a grammatically plural expression, namely cu/la kai_ li/qoi13. Would this plural Greek expression refer, therefore, to building materials just because it is a plural?
If it is possible to read the "Plague Narrative" of course not exclusively as a mockery of the Egyptian pantheon, and if the expression Mynb)bw Myc(bw in Exod 7,19 can indeed be understood as a reference to the Egyptian idols, then it can be concluded that the end of this verse, within the context of the first plague, is no longer an unimportant curiosum.